I quit my job today

Well, that's not true. I actually quit my job about six months ago when I announced I was leaving. But today was the final day, the Day of the Cardboard Box, the day in which I walked out of the office and am not scheduled to ever walk back in.

Actually, today's not even the final day. That's not true either. I have a few days of working from home between now and July. I have a farewell gathering put on by kind colleagues to attend at the end of the month. And I suppose my last day of employment won't really arrive until some weeks into our trip, when my surplus leave runs out.

But today feels like a really big day. I've spent almost seven years—seven years—going to the same place at the same time on the same days of the week. Those seven years have been pretty lovely, and I feel so fortunate to have had what was really a pretty great job. The people were wonderful, the work was service-oriented, the hours were flexible, the salary was good. I got health insurance and paid time off and a whole lot of autonomy. I had some patient bosses who put up with me taking three-month-long sabbaticals every year, who let me bend the rules just to their breaking point.

I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I'm anxious to turn my back on what was really a good thing. But getting too cozy is dangerous. Inertia is a stealthy predator. I've learned a lot from these seven years, and I enjoyed plenty, but with each passing year I feel I learned a little less. The days have blended into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years. I've grown tired of meetings, of teleconferences, of timesheets and password changes and Monday morning elevator commiseration. I've grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige. I've missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed. There's magic out there, in this great big beautiful world, and I've long since scooped up the last of the scraps to be found in my cubicle.

I know there's another way to live. I've dabbled in it. But now it's time to commit. To go all-in. I'm thankful for this privilege. The privilege to commit. The privilege to walk away from a well-paying life of comfort. To charge headlong into indulgence, rough but ultimately temporary. To make this choice. I recognize it's not a choice everyone has. I don't intend to be flippant, ungrateful. I am deeply appreciative.

I quit my job today. I'm terrified. I'm thrilled. I feel like I felt when I stepped off a plane at ten thousand feet some years back, tumbling head over heels, plummeting toward the earth. I know there's a parachute. I know it will be okay. It's just going to take a few moments to get my bearings, to right myself.

Here we go.

Oh, that job? I worked for the US Department of Housing & Urban Development. If you're really curious, this is what I did.

Oh, and this mysterious Lauren character quit her job too. Which means she maybe has a little more time to write about how all this planning and anticipation has been from her perspective. Look out for that soon.